Baltimore: Spotlight on Boog’s Bbq at Camden Yards

Boog Powell manning the grill

I could probably called the woman of a thousand job and would probably take offense to “jack of all trades, master of none.”  One of my more unique jobs was working for the Baltimore Orioles.  I got a chance to work for them straight out of college.  The best aroma in Camden Yards is Boog’s Barbecue named after the legendary Oriole’s baseball player Boog Powell.  Expect marinated pieces of delicious pulled pork, beef or turkey.  Sides offerings include kettle chips, coleslaw or beans.  The sandwich is not a cheap eat but when is ballpark food ever inexpensive.  Expect to pay about $10 alone for the sandwich without side. -Crystal A. Johnson

Boog’s Bbq

Rosedale, Maryland: The Mallow Bar (Now Closed)

Feeling for something different? Hmmh that sounds good, but what? What could you try?  Well,MCCN has a suggestion for you that is sweet, different, and oh so good! Mallow Munchies (now called Mallow Crunchies) is just the ticket.

Mallow what?Mallow Crunchies* are a delightful spin on rice crispy treats. I discovered these delicious little savories when I went to the Health Care for the Homeless Chocolate Affair in 2010 and boy-oh-boy was I surprised at how delicious it wasthe_mallow_bar_2. Mallow Crunchies owner, Nikki Lewis, and her husband were working together handing out the snacks, and let’s just say my “sampling” was downright embarassing, yet I had no shame. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought Nikki Lewis’ treat  was on the money; they were voted “Baltimore’s Best Sweet Snack” in 2010, by Baltimore Magazine.

Here’s what you should know about Mallow Crunchies. They are unlike your traditional rice crispy treats because they are made with homemade marshmallows, made with all natural ingredients and no preservatives. Mallow Crunchies, which is based out of the Baltimore, Maryland area, makes their crunchies with toppings like Belgian chocolate and homemade caramel. They have a shelf-life of about one month and should be placed in the refrigerator, if not immediately eaten. Mallow Crunchies recommends that before you eat the refrigerated munchies, you should let it sit in order “to reactivate their gooey, chewy goodness.”

Caramallow2.largeThere’s good news for those in the Maryland area—Nikiki Lewis, owner of Mallow Crunchies, has begun a new chapter in dessert bar history, opening up The Mallow Bar in Rosedale, Maryland—the first rice crispy treat cafe in the country. The Mallow Bar just had its soft opening in the beginning of February and had its grand opening on Saturday, February 25th. The Mallow Bar features the Mallow Crunchies as its flagship item, also serving other desserts as well as coffee and tea.

Here’s a listing of Mallow Crunchies options:

  • Original- the classic we all know
  • Dipped Munchies- pure Belgian dark chocolate
  • Toffe Nut Munch- with salted cashews and sweet toffee
  • CaraMallow Munch- with handmade caramel
  • Crunch Munch- popcorn and candy-coated chocolates
  • Trail Munch- The original mixed with dried cranberries and toasted pumpkinseeds

Find out how you can order Mallow Munchies by clicking here.

*Mallow Munchies has recently changed their name to Mallow Crunchies.

Sweet Inspiration: Spotlight on Destined Image in Baltimore

Chocolate-covered strawberries are a favorite treat from Destined Images.

What does it take to start your own catering business? Just doing it, apparently. Monique Brownson is an entrepreneur with big plans for her Baltimore-based catering business, Destined Image. Although, she is still in the midst of her humble beginnings, Brownson takes a positive attitude, even when met with the challenges of being short-staffed, short on cash, working as her own marketing consultant, and planning events dependent on “word of mouth” support. By and by, the young entrepreneur is increasing her contacts and getting her name out, which is one of her biggest goals for her company.

Brownson realized her love for cooking at the age of ten, under the watchful eyes of her grandmother. She credits her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother for her love of cooking, but according to Brownson her grandmother was the first one to light the flame of this passion. “She started me out on frying chicken wings.” One might wonder where you go from there, but Brownson quickly answers, “…then it moved on to biscuits and baking cakes…” and as any child would acknowledge, her favorite part was licking the bowl. In 2006, after a brief stint of unemployment, Brownson put her cooking to the test by having bake-sales. She now coooks dinners, caters church affairs, and plans events. One of the annual events for Destined Image is “Jazz Poetic Love Notes,” a Valentine’s Day banquet, where Brownson’s culinary skills are front and center in an elegant display.

Destined Image chocolate covered pretzels

The signature food for Destined Images is chocolate, which speaks to the owners self admitted status as a “Chocolate-aholic.” However, this is not the only reason chocolate is the signature food. At first, her focus was on arts and crafts, center pieces and gift baskets, and although she still provides those services, she  changed her focus after conducting a little independent research. Brownson recalls looking on the internet and seeing how much companies charged for chocolate-covered strawberries. It was an eye-opening experience for the young entrepreneur. Now Destined Image gives their chocolate-covered confections top-billing.  “I’m gearing more to chocolate-covered lollipops and strawberries,” Brownson says. However, she admits she will pretty much dip anything her customers ask her to dip.

Destined Image carrot cake

It’s that kind of desire to please her customers that leads her to excel. Brownson acknowledges her baby daughter as her inspiration to branch out, and she attributes the key factor to her success to her will to keep trying. “Keep trying. Keep going!” Brownson urges, “When it doesn’t work the first time…try it again the next year. Make changes….do your best and put everything out there.” She advises, “Find out the shakes and the quakes and correct them for the next time and keep going.” She will take her own advice as Destined Image takes on some new events next year  — a Mother’s Day brunch and Christmas party are in the works. She is also equipping herself with additional training so she can begin to include wedding cakes in her list of services.  Moreover, Brownson is now making strides to cater for groups of 500 and over.

In the meantime, Brownson will keep on doing what she’s doing — providing delicious quality food and moving Destined Image towards the destiny she sees just over the horizon.

To contact Destined Image for your catering needs, email Monique Brownson at destinedimage@yahoo.com.

Article by Monica Johnson

Copeland’s Restaurants: A Taste of New Orleans

Good food is good food, whether it’s the “she-she pooh-pooh” quarter-sized portions or the “heavin’ up the eats with a shovel” variety. Nevertheless, it can get iffy when you go to chain restaurants, where the fish is bland and the pasta has no personality. Thankfully, this is not the case with Copeland’s of New Orleans.

Copeland’s is located in Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Florida and of course Louisiana. MCCN’s visit was to their Columbia, Maryland location. Centrally located near The Mall in Columbia, upon driving up to the restaurant you might think you’re about to enter a 1980’s pop club with the florescent lights beaming at optimal brightness, but hold on…entering the restaurant is a completely different story. The classic dark wood and dim surroundings are serene and cozy for a very comfortable dining experience.

Time to order…what to do? What to do? Let’s stall ’em by placing our appetizer order. “We’ll have an order of your Creole Calamari please! ” That’ll give us a few minutes to figure something out. Meanwhile, the hot buttered biscuits on the table seem to know each one of our names. And with each bite we remember more and more who they are…”Grandma how did you get in there?”

The calamari arrives and the tasting begins. “Uummh!” says one…”Uummh” goes another. All are pleased ! The calamari is seasoned, lightly dusted, crispy fried and served with Creole Remoulade Vinaigrette or marinara sauce. Both are good, but the Creole Remoulade has a spicy kick that should not be missed.

Three women – three orders, and two of them involve catfish. Plate #1 was the Crab -Stuffed Catfish Bordelaise, which was an 8 oz. fillet of catfish stuffed with crabmeat stuffing, seasoned and broiled then topped with garlic butter then served with Corn Macque Choux and steamed vegetables. Not your run of the mill combination of fish topped with crabmeat, these two complimented each other so well that eating them separately is an injustice. The portion was generous and the reception was pure satisfaction.

Plate #2 involved some nerves of steel…some adventurous eating on the partakers part. A discussion

eggplant, Copeland's Restaurant, Copeland's of New Orleans, angel hair pasta

Copeland's of New Orleans in Columbia, Maryland

had just taken place about eggplant. Sentiments of never really being satisfied with ordering eggplant or eating it in general. Somehow, some way, the partaker trudged past her own trepidation, probably letting herself be inspired by the picture on the menu, and ordered the Eggplant Pirogue.  Her faith would be rewarded with a very enthusiastic thumbs up for this flavorful dish. Also a healthy serving, this eggplant dish served over angel hair pasta is smothered in au gratin sauce with shrimp and crab claws.

Plate #3 is an order of Catfish Acadiana and boy did  those Cajuns really get it right! Golden fried catfish with creamy shrimp butter sauce.  It’s usually served with steamed vegetables and Copeland’s Red Hot Potatoes, but this partaker indulged herself with a double dose of starch – red beans and rice and the mashed sweet potatoes. The red beans and rice were standardly good, but the mashed sweet potatoes are buttery sweetness at its best. Yes, you will need a sweet tooth for this dish; It is something to write home about. Dear Mom: Next time you visit, we’re going to go to Copeland’s of New Orleans!

Article by Monica Johnson

Darker Than Blue Restaurant in Baltimore is a Class Act

Get Ready for the New Series, East Coast Pitstops on the Multi Cultural Cooking Network coming in November.  The series is based on articles written by Los Angeles Restaurant Critic, Crystal Johnson.  Darker Than Blue Restaurant is one of the best places for superb food.

Darker Than Blue– Waverly ( Not far from Johns Hopkins University)

 Named for a Curtis Mayfield song, this restaurant will have taste buds singing a happy tune. Darker Than Blue has a sophisticated vibe of a Blues establishment mixed with fine dining experience on Greenmount Ave. Baltimoreans would scratch their head about the location, location, location but if you love southern cuisine and want experience not only to perfection but with class then Darker Than Blue is the place for you. The chef took our taste-buds from the southern US to Spain. Wine is not sold at the establishment so we have the sweet peach tea. On this night the flavor of peach is overpowered by the sugar. Note, the beverage will be my only complaint.

When it comes to the food, everything is perfection from the most moist cornbread served with a sweet potato butter. Sweet potato lovers, meditate on that. Chicken poppers filled with crab meat are served next with two complimenting sauces including an orange marmalade vinaigrette and and what my companion described as a basic cocktail sauce. However, the cocktail sauce works in the classic tradition of pairing it with seafood and in an unconventional way because of the prominence of the chicken. The meat of the chicken is tender while the coating is crunchy. There are three tiers of texture working together nicely. For our next appetizer, stuffed shrimp takes the stage filled with crab meat. The shrimp seems to be broiled. It is simple and classic in taste. Moving across the waters to Spanish Cuisine is the paella. It has a spicy flare not in a hot pepper sense but a more subtle kick. The dish is filled with chicken, sausage, shrimp, peppers, and mussels along with the classic saffron rice. Part owner and Chef Casey Jenkins also serves a marvelous fish and grits dinner entree. The outstanding tender catfish is placed upon garlic sauteed spinach upon a bed of grits complimented with garlic butter sauce surrounding the mound

caseywithfoodSmallThe local Baltimore Magazine named Darker than Blue among the top 50 restaurants in the city.  People come for good mac & cheese, fried chicken and the pairing of chicken and waffles too.   Run, don’t walk to this restaurant in Baltimore.   Check the website for information about jazz performances and the Sunday Brunch.  http://www.darkerthanbluecafe.com/InTheNews.html

To check out the East Coast Pitstops  Restaurant Review series visit:

Virginia:

http://www.examiner.com/x-9408-LA-Comfort–Soul-Food-Restaurant-Examiner~y2009m7d15-East-Coast-Pit-Stops-In-Search-of-ComfortFood-in-Virginia

Maryland:

http://www.examiner.com/x-9408-LA-Comfort–Soul-Food-Restaurant-Examiner~y2009m7d28-East-Coast-PItstops-Seeking-ComfortFood-in-Baltimore-Part-II

Hairspray-Visit Cafe Hon in Baltimore where Art Imitates Baltimore, Hon

hairspraynewlinecinema

by Crystal A. Johnson

Although, I am a native New Yorker I did live in Baltimore for a number of years.  There is a definite culture to Baltimore.  If you are transplant living in Baltimore you know this for sure.  The accent of many natives drops the T in the pronunciation of Baltimore emitting a sound more reminiscent to “Balmer.”   Filmmaker Jonathan Waters brings all the color and much of what is unique about his hometown to life in the story Hairspray, a wildly successful movie and broadway show.

(New Line Cinemas)

FADE TO BLACK:

FADE IN:

EXT-OUTSIDE OF CAFE HON

Fans of the film visiting B-more, there is a town called Hampden where a popular restaurant called Cafe Hon is located. The hair of your waitress is likely to be big and you wonder if you have been transported to the 5o’s.  Diners are still a popular cultural trend in Baltimore. The Barry Levinson film entitled, The Diner took place there.

purplehaired ladies

*Read the Review of Cafe Hon with a Bonus Review of a really cool spot called Darker than Blue(Unbelievable Catfish/Paella)

http://www.examiner.com/x-9408-LA-Comfort–Soul-Food-Restaurant-Examiner~y2009m7d23-East-Coast-Pit-Stops-Part-1-In-Search-of-ComfortFood-in-Baltimore